For the first time in 25 years experts in Alzheimer’s disease have proposed new guidelines regarding the criteria used for diagnosing the disease.
The new guidelines would allow special tests that use brain scans, biomarkers and other new technologies to clinically diagnose the disease even before any symptoms appear. These tests would replace the way Alzheimer’s is currently diagnosed, which is based solely on the detection of symptoms.
Experts are seeking to create three different stages of Alzheimer’s disease: pre-clinical; mild cognitive impairment; and dementia. These distinctions are being viewed as a major advancement in diagnosis because detecting the disease in its early stages will allow doctors to treat and monitor their patients as the disease develops.
The number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is expected to double, or even triple, under these new diagnostic guidelines; and some are concerned that efforts to diagnose the disease too early may lead to mistaken diagnoses. Despite such concerns, most Alzheimer’s experts agree that the guidelines are a great leap forward in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and many are optimistic that the new guidelines will likely move researchers closer to the discovering the cause of the disease. The guidelines are expected to be adopted this coming Fall.
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